Tennessee Lady Vols Win First NCAA Tournament Game vs Dayton: 5 Takeaways

The Tennessee Lady Vols beat the Flyers 66-57 in the Women’s Basketball NCAA Tournament’s first round. Here are five takeaways from the Volunteers’ victory.

Diamond DeShields had 24 points, and Mercedes Russell had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Tennessee Lady Vols won their first round game of the Women’s NCAA Tournament.

Holly Warlick’s team was able to achieve another 20-win season in the process, and the No. 5 seed Lady Vols will face the Louisville Cardinals in the second round on Monday.

Tennessee jumped out to a strong start in the first quarter, but Dayton had a second-quarter run to tie the game at 29 going into the half.

But the Lady Vols once again took control in the third quarter and eventually built a double-digit lead en route to their win.

Here are five takeaways from the Tennessee Lady Vols’ victory.

1. Tennessee dominated on the inside. 

Mercedes Russell was obviously a star with her double-double, snagging 14 points and 10 rebounds. Also, Diamond DeShields was constantly driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line, where she went 8-for-10.

Meanwhile, off the bench, Shaquille Nunn contributed in a huge way. She had 14 points and an incredible 15 rebounds. The dominance on the inside helped overcome another issue the Lady Vols had on this night. It’s something they won’t get away with again.

2. Outside shooting was awful.

To be fair, Holly Warlick knew that against Dayton, her team just had to dominate on the inside. They had all the advantages and exploited them. So they didn’t ever really try to get into a rhythm outside. However, when there was outside shooting, it was bad.

The Lady Vols shot 0-for-5 from three, and Jaime Nared, their key outside shooter, only had 8 points. She was 0-for-2 from three and 2-for-8 from the field overall. The Tennessee Lady Vols lost lots of games this year specifically because they had bad outside shooting nights. That can’t happen again in this tournament. They defied the odds by winning a game without scoring from Nared. But there are other positive reasons that happened.

3. Perimeter defense was amazing.

Another reason the Tennessee Lady Vols would look so inconsistent during the year was because they couldn’t defend on the perimeter at times. That wasn’t the case in this game. In addition to dominating on the inside, they were dominant on the outside to make up for their outside shooting.

On average Dayton makes about seven three-pointers a game and shoots 34.5 percent from the field. They also average 15 turnovers a game. In this game however, the Lady Vols held them to four three-pointers, and the Flyers shot 20 percent from outside. Meanwhile, Tennessee forced 22 turnovers. And turnovers leads to our next point.

4. Tennessee stayed in control on offense.

Holly Warlick’s team was never really bad on the year at taking care of the basketball, but when you’re having a bad shooting night, anything can happen. That wasn’t the case in this game, though, and as a result, they were able to overcome their bad shooting by not turning it over.

Well, that and dominating on defense and the inside helped. Anyway, Tennessee turned the ball over only nine times, while Dayton forces 13 and a half turnovers a game on average. Staying in control helped them dominate on the inside. So that’s why they’re advancing once again.

5. Diamond DeShields is the clear leader of this team.

The Tennessee Lady Vols knew they had to dominate this game on the inside and defend the perimeter. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, Holly Warlick made sure her team did both. But the outside shots weren’t falling, and Jaime Nared got into foul trouble. That’s usually a recipe for Tennessee losing, and Dayton eventually made it interesting.

That’s when Diamond DeShields did what she usually does and took over. She obviously finished the game with 24 points and constantly dominated on the inside. It was her show in the second half, and she showed all the makings of a superstar. Not only is she this team’s best player, but she also is the go-to person when the X’s and O’s are failing.